To be honest, I have not taught River much about God. I've told him on a toddler level that God created the world and people and everything in nature and loves everyone very much. We recently started going to a new church and River is retaining everything they are teaching him. Last Sunday he told me about "Jesus' friends waving palms and Jesus rode on the donkey." And he has also shared with me that, "Jesus is God, and God is Jesus," which is not something I have taught him. We occasionally pray and thank God for our food, and some nights we pray for protection or healing and thank God for our family, but we as a whole family do not pray often (this is something I want to change).
It's funny how these are not things I really thought about until I had children. I grew up in a Christian family and Easter was always a celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus. I knew this is how I would celebrate with my own children someday, but I thought very little about how I would actually approach the topic. Actually, I didn't really think about how I would approach teaching about the Bible and God at all. Then, when this little soul was given to me to nourish and grow, I sort of began to stutter my way through mentioning God every now and then and answering questions like, "Who made God?" and "Does Santa live in heaven, too?"
Then I think of the stories that I have helped teach to tiny people in Sunday school, stories about mass genocide and slavery and women being treated as property and the Savior of the world being beaten and nailed to a cross, and when the time has finally come that there is some expectation for me to teach these things to my three-year-old, I am horrified that it is expected that this be shared with my very young child, simply because of the prevalence of these stories to the religious side of Christianity. And yes, I know the story of Christ is what Christianity is based upon, but it doesn't settle with me to yet explain the violence and torture of Jesus or even sin and the whole reason for Christ and the cross. I've barely explained life and death to him, and it is only because of death of a gerbil named Macey.
As our little Christian selves grew up these stories were taught to us to show us God's grace, power, strength, and forgiveness. But then I begin chasing my tail, these simple questions to be answered, not so simple anymore, and making me question the faith I've kept close to my heart for twenty-five years. Though the questions don't shake my faith, they leave me confused and unsure of exactly what to teach my children.
So I think, what do I want my children to know about God, right now? I want them to know that God is Love. That Love is everywhere.
And in the coming years, as they chase their own tails and offer questions that deserve answers, I want them to know that theology is not salvation, and salvation doesn't come by repeating facts; facts don't save people. That the grace God has is bigger than the grace that be contained by man. That you don't get to heaven by believing a donkey spoke or that gay marriage is wrong or that women shouldn't lead. I want them to know that only God truly knows a heart. That if love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are fruits of the Spirit, to look for the Spirit in everyone. That God said "it is good," and every good and perfect gift comes from above. That people are fallible, and that not everything happens for a reason, but God is patient and full of love.
Facts can wait. But these simple things, I want them to hold onto for the rest of their lives.